Saturday, March 22, 2014

River City Smokehouse Sandwich at Lunch

River City Smokehouse Sandwich by pjpink

River City Smokehouse Sandwich a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
Lunch serves up a pile of BBQ for their River City Smokehouse Sandwich. Enjoy with a Guinness on draft.

Bacon-Wrapped Pork at Tastebuds American Bistro

Bacon-wrapped Pork by pjpink

Bacon-wrapped Pork a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
Tastebuds American Bistro currently offers a Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Pickled Beet and Onion Relish, Herbed Mashed Potatoes, and Braised Savoy Cabbage. A delicious dish for this time of year.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fried Chicken Night at Saison

Yummy! Saison gets its fried chicken on every Sunday night. A quarter chicken (your choice of light or dark meat) and two sides (their choice, not yours) for $8. A truly tasty bargain. The chicken is moist and tender and arrives piping hot, so fingers beware! And, yes, eat it with your hands. Not a fried chicken fan? The regular menu is also available. The pork chop satisfies, too.

Saison also serves up a fantastic array of inventive cocktails and currently carry one of my favorite wines, Field Recordings Fiction.

Saison serves up a variety of cocktails in vintage glassware

The Boulevard features Rye, Cocchi Torino, Cynar, and Campari

On this night the sides were smokey mac and cheese and potato salad

The pork chop was a tasty alternative for non-fried chicken fans

 Go early or make reservations. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

A Special Cocktail from Tastebuds American Bistro

Barrel-aged Rum, Byrrh, and Blood Orange Juice was the featured offering on Valentine's Day at Tastebuds American Bistro. Although they have a tiny bar, they serve up spirited craft cocktails for under $9. And they have the best cocktail cherries in RVA (no sickeningly sweet fake maraschinos for them).


Saturday, March 01, 2014

Fried Chicken with Grits and Kimchi at Amuse

Traditional fried chicken with a hot little twist at Amuse. So good.

A Chef's Kitchen in Williamsburg

At last, a culinary reason to go to Williamsburg. A Chef's Kitchen is a complete delight and well worth a trip to the former Colonial Capitol. Owner and CIA-trained chef John Gonzales along with his CIA-trained assistant, Nick Allen, present an entertaining, informative, and delicious multi-course meal paired with wine. The venue hosts no more than 40 diners per night. The tables are configured like stadium seating in a movie theater facing a kitchen. John and Nick prepare the meal in front of the dining audience while passing along preparation tips and bits of food wisdom, as well as a bit of wry commentary about the world of food. Questions and photography are encouraged. The menu changes every month with a eye towards seasonal ingredients. When we dined in February we tasted a stellar line-up and were provided recipes to try at home.

Enjoy the photos and make plans well in advance. Weekend seatings fill up very quickly.

John Gonzales prepping waffle chips. After the meal a dining participant asked about how he balanced his work with home-life. He stated that his venture here which is now in its 10th year was less work and less stress than any other culinary position he had held. 

Nick Allen preparing to sear strip loins. Both he and John displayed a welcoming conversational manner. They enjoyed imparting their knowledge and displayed a quick wit for any hiccups in the cooking process.

Pierre Larousse Blanc de Blancs  sparkling was served as we arrived. All of the wines served paired well with the food and were inexpensive. A Chef's Kitchen contains a small wine shop and every wine is $10 a bottle.

First course - Roasted Apple, Parsnip, Sharp Cheddar, and Applejack Brandy Soup with Pasqua Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie. Great soup for a winter evening. The tiny apple chucks gave a sweet texture. Sharp cheddar was melted into the soup with diced chunks to garnish. I liked the melted cheddar. For cheddar lovers, the diced morsels would be welcomed. For non-cheddar lovers (like me), I would omit the diced cheese.

Second course - Mixed Baby Lettuces with Toasted Pistachios, Pineapple, and Creamy Watergate Lime Dressing and Skillet Baked Corn Bread. I really enjoyed the pineapple and nuts in the salad, a culinary deconstructed nod to the Watergate Salad of years' past, but the star of this dish was the cornbread. John touted the wonders of a cast iron skillet and the need for fresh corn meal. He mixed up the batter and cooked it for 15 minutes while we were eating the soup. Light and tasty, not too sweet. The recipe is flexible enough to add more sugar if one prefers a sweeter taste. Heavenly!

Third course - Flash Fried Chesapeake Flounder Filet with Fennel Slaw and Brown Butter Caper Sauce served with Pere et Fils Chardonnay-Viognier. I love capers. I love fennel. I am not a fish fan, although I have come to realize that the fish I do not like is the fish that is poorly cooked. This flounder knocked my socks off. It was so tasty, so moist, and not fishy. A delightful surprise for my evening. Afterwards I related my experience to Nick and he explained that the secret is not to overcook the fish. 

Course four - New York Striploin Steak with Roasted Bell Pepper-Oregano Onion Saute served with Colsanto Ruis Sangiovese-Merlot. Medium rare perfection and a generous portion of beef. A Chef's Kitchen uses certified Hereford beef which The Fresh Market carries.

Fifth course - Almond Frangipane Torte with Warm Apricot and Cherry Chutney a la Mode. A very sweet ending to a marvelous evening.

A truly enjoyable experience. In the fall they feature venison. It would be worth going back.